Focus on Obesity May Help Reduce Health Costs

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 11.27.31 PMDisability claims present a potentially significant health-related cost for companies. They’re also an area where workplace wellness programs — particularly ones that bring a focus on weight-management — may help.

Benefits Pro reports that “Aging and overweight baby boomers are creating a new health insurance challenge: How to successfully manage disability claims when claims based on joint and musculoskeletal disorders are beginning to rival cancer as a top disabilities driver?”

Indeed, Unum “reviewed claims data generated during the past decade, and spotted the trend toward weight and age-related claims.” While cancer remains the leading cause for long-term disability claims, “over the decade, Unum found a 33 percent increase in long-term disability claims and 14 percent increase in short-term disability claims for musculoskeletal issues.”

Unum also found “a 22 percent increase in long-term disability claims and 26 increase increase in short-term disability claims for joint disorders.”

Previously, Benefits Pro has reported that “morbidly obese workers cost employers more than $4,000 a year more than normal-weight employees, according to a study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.”

Said Greg Breter, senior vice president of benefits at Unum: “Aging baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer, and more than a third of U.S. adults are classified as overweight or obese. Research is showing that obesity is contributing to a dramatic increase in knee replacement surgery and exacerbates other conditions like arthritis, back injuries and joint pain. In addition, we also see obesity contributing to other issues, like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, and certain types of cancer.”